Savanarola was a fiery Italian priest who boldly denounced the pope and the corrupt papal court. He was executed for his actions. Though he continued to espouse Roman Catholic doctrine throughout his life, the Protestant reformers later looked to him as an example of one who took a stand against the excesses and errors of Romanism. He gave us the hymn, Jesus, Refuge of the Weary.
Jesus, refuge of the weary,
Object of the spirit’s love,
Fountain in life’s desert dreary,
Saviour from the world above.
O how oft Thine eyes, offended,
Gaze upon the sinner’s fall;
Yet upon the cross extended,
Thou didst bear the pain of all.
Do we pass that cross unheeding,
Breathing no repentant vow,
Though we see Thee wounded, bleeding,
See Thy thorn encircled brow?
Yet Thy sinless death hath brought us
Life eternal, peace, and rest;
Only what Thy grace hath taught us
Calms the sinner’s stormy breast.
2) Today in 1745 – Good Christian Men, Rejoice sung
Many churches have sung this Christmas carol of course. But there was one occasion when the congregational rendering of it was dramatically different. On this date, the original version (predating John Mason Neale’s English paraphrase) was sung in a Moravian church in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 13 languages at once!
The young people in the video clip here do a fine job. Too bad the recording didn’t start quit soon enough, but the rest is enjoyable.
3) Today in 1833 – John Stevenson Died
Irish musician John Andrew Stevenson became a chorister, then Vicar Choral at Christ Church and St. Patrick’s cathedrals. He was also an able organist. The University of Dublin awarded him a doctoral degree in 1791, and he was knighted in 1803. Stevenson wrote the tune Vesper Hymn for the evening song Jubilate (from the Latin word jubilatus meaning to shout for joy). “Let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You” (Ps. 5:11). Though it is sometimes treated as a hymn, and I’ve included it here, there’s little in the pretty song of biblical truth.
Hark! the vesper hymn is stealing
O’er the waters soft and clear;
Nearer yet and nearer pealing
Soft it breaks upon the ear,
Jubilate! Jubilate! Jubilate! Amen!
Farther now and farther stealing
Soft it fades upon the ear.